Nonprofit clears hurdle for permanent fix to Ala Wai trash troubles

Non-profit clears hurdle for permanent fix to Ala Wai trash troubles

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nonprofit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is one step closer to getting a water wheel to help clean trash from the Ala Wai Canal and boat harbor.

For years, the state has struggled to deal with trash that collects in the waterway and clogs the harbor. A catchment at the base of the canal gets about 30 percent of the debris, but it's expensive to empty the net so the Department of Land and Natural Resources doesn't empty it until it's full.

What isn't captured, makes it into the harbor.

Greg Longnecker, who runs fishing tours out of the habor, says it's bad for business. "A shame. We should take better care of the water," he said.

The logs and rubbish can also cause damage to the boats.

And tourists walking by can't help but notice the eyesore.

"I'm surprised really, because everything is pristine," says Graeme Kendall, who is visiting from New Zealand, "(It's a) beautiful place, and then you see this."

DLNR manages the harbors, but refused to talk to Hawaii News Now about any possible long-term solution. They said the problem is about trash, not boating.

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, meanwhile, has been working on the water wheel for months. The device is being used in Maryland to clean the harbors. A feasibility study just completed is the first step toward getting the new technology.

"It shows that this is a feasible project and now we're at this point we need to apply for our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit," says Kahi Pacarro, of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, "The permit process should take a few months."

Then, the group will work to pay for the wheel.  Pacarro estimates it will cost $800,000 to $1 million.

The Honolulu City Council allocated about $350,000 for the project, and Pacarro says the nonprofit is applying for state and federal grants.

Crowdfunding will have to fill in the gaps.

If the group can raise the money, Pacarro hopes to have the water wheel spinning in the next two years. He says DLNR has told him, if he can get the wheel built and installed, the state agency will manage it.

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